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Rescue Story: The Arrival of a Special Litter of Kittens

Hi kittens!
Hi kittens!

Actually the date was May 17, but May 15 is close enough, and the year was 2006. The arrival of a litter of kittens to foster from a neighbor whose cats regularly produced, though I worked on them, slowly but surely, was not at all surprising in mid-May. I would work to spay this mother cat, if I could, around care for the household of seniors, several of whom I would lose in the next few months, managing care for my mother and brother, and managing my business, as well as other feline rescues that always arose during kitten season.

I would foster the little ones until I was certain of their personality, though they were always nice, socialized, playful and affectionate kittens, and until space opened up in the shelter for them to go in, get the works, and get adopted. Often I would adopt out one or two to friends or friends of friends who I’d checked out or who other rescuers I worked with had checked out, many of whom had adopted from me in the past.

What made this litter special was that their mother was none other than Mimi, and the litter of kittens included one kitten in particular—Lucy! This was the moment when this part of our story began, when Lucy joined our household.

The photos are really bad because the light in the studio, where I’d placed them in a cage, was blocked by so many things stacked in there, but Lucy was in part the cause of the bad photos because she would not stop running around in the cage so my camera would not focus. I did my best, but ironically, she was not in any of the five bad photos I took. We made up for that later. Here are her three siblings, who became Angus, Donal and Charlotte. She was actually to the right of them at one moment which is why they are cut off on the left, but by the time the camera snapped the photo she was off somewhere else in the cage.

The best photo I could get, and Lucy wasn't even there!
The best photo I could get, and Lucy wasn’t even there!

I will let Mimi tell you how things went from there. This text is adapted from an article I share around Mother’s Day, narrated by Mimi:

I’d like to tell you about the kittens I gave birth to in April 2006 including Lucy, Charlotte, Angus and Donal because Bernadette came to get them as she did with most of my kittens. It was nothing dramatic except that they were being typical kittens and racing each in different directions. She had her carrier and methodically caught each one and simply took them away. I was always glad to see her and never got in her way when she wanted my kittens, only sat in a corner and watched. It was comforting to know, when I went outdoors and into her garden across the street from my house, that my babies were in her house; I could smell them, though I couldn’t see them. I never thought that would happen for me, though…

But of that April litter, of course Lucy stayed with Bernadette, and is gone but never forgotten. Charlotte was adopted by one family, Angus and Donal by another, and I am always happy to hear news of them because they are in excellent, loving homes. Bernadette kept in touch with the people who adopted them because they are friends of hers. I like that about her, as much as I like the fact that she took me to be spayed. I see by reading Bernadette’s e-mails that these three also regularly wish me a happy Mother’s Day and send greetings at other times and even happy photos of them come over.

This litter was special because one of the kittens was not black—in fact, she was a crazy calico! Her father happened to be an unneutered gray and white male living in the household with us who had been the kitten to yet another unspayed dilute calico female…yes, you read that right, we had a big problem over there, but it was “fixed” years ago, with Bernadette’s help. And I like to keep things neat, anyway, and back in the day, when I was ready, I would call the big unneutered black males from Fifth Avenue who would come running…that’s all in my past, though I see those two in my kittens’ faces. But I digress…

calico cat under christmas tree
Charlotte’s first Christmas.

Charlotte the crazy calico

Anyway, this litter had three typically perfect black kittens, two boys and one girl, and then a kitten who was fully half black if you put all her black parts together, then half…orange tabby? Where the heck did that come from? That dilute calico grandma, I guess. Aren’t genetics amazing? And isn’t she lovely? When you look at her from the front she looks like two cats were put together, but maybe weren’t happy about it.

When my human mom sent out the e-mail to friends that kittens were available, one of her customers (Bernadette is self-employed and apparently all her customers are cat lovers) who we know as Uncle Howard immediately said he’d like to adopt the calico girl for his son who had one cat and traveled while he and his wife checked on the cat. His big cat, Joey, needed some feline company while his cat daddy was away, and a playful kitten would be the best.

calico cat
Charlotte as an adult, and just can’t decide what her furs should be.

Her name became Charlotte before she even left the house and she went off to spend the night with her new human grandparents. She proceeded to run behind and underneath the gas stove necessitating a delicate shutoff of the gas, disconnect and moving of the stove, at which point she ran into the basement and was lost for hours. She appeared in the middle of the family room later bouncing on her toes and covered with cobwebs to be installed in the bathroom until morning. From what I hear Bernadette warned them, and this is what happens to people who do not listen to her.

Charlotte went from there on to her forever home and immediately dominated the placid and sleepy Joey, a nice orange boy who got his exercise by watching her bounce off the walls. Her cat daddy has added a few more felines to his household along with a human female and two smaller humans, and Uncle Howard and his lady human still stop over, but there’s not much traveling. Charlotte has become a little shy with all the extra activity, but still bounces off the walls when a chance presents itself. Calicoes are like that.

Angus and Donal

Yes, they are little Scotscats, so don’t worry, the name is spelled correctly. Mama Bernadette has many, many friends who love kitties as well, including people who have adopted from her in the past. The couple who adopted the two boys had, years ago, adopted two other boys born to a momcat she had taken in and they adopted the momcat as well from her first litter, and a few other kitties in between.

This time they called Bernadette, each on a separate phone extension in their house, and said they’d like to adopt two kittens, especially two brothers, because they had several older female cats and the kittens could torture each other while they enjoyed watching kittens grow up. They thought the two kittens could keep each other company through the years as adults too. Seeing how the little black girl was a wild woman and rarely stayed with the other three except to sleep, and the other two black kittens were very close, the decision was easy, and brothers it was.

two black cats and dilute tortie
Angus and Donal in their spots on the bed with sister Mollie.

Angus and Donal’s names hearken back to their human mom’s Scots heritage, but that doesn’t help in telling them apart! These two apparently had a good bit of my looks and apparently one of the black studs was father to both because they are very, very similar—I even had trouble telling them apart, but Bernadette and I agree they look like two Mr. Sunshines and that means trouble.

Now, as adults, slight differences in eye color and hair coverage in the ears as well as their vocabulary and singing style (remember, I have opera singing in my heritage) are a few quick ways to distinguish one from the other. Of course, like all kitties, they have distinctive habits, like where on their human they sleep. As a last resort, you can upend them and check for the small gathering of white hairs near the bottom of Angus’ belly, which he apparently got from me.

They have also learned a few fun tricks from the resident felines, particularly one big sister who taught them to chase the occasional squirrel that invades the attic. We have mousies and voles here, but never a squirrel!

So that is the story of how those kittens—and many others— came to be here, where they went, and eventually how I came to be here with my four wonderful children.

Note from Bernadette:

This was first published as “Mimi’s 2006 Children: Lucy, Charlotte, Angus and Donal” as Mimi discussed, in a three-part series, the relative joys of Mother’s Day from the perspective of a spayed and happy housecat and introduced two of her litters of kittens.

I look in litters from other cats in that household as well, and eventually did get all the cats fixed, and even helped to find a home for several adults. Mimi was the last unspayed girlie from there, and her last litter, the Fantastic Four, the last litter as well.

I will also point out in the two photos of the kittens in the cage, that the bed they are in is the mint green/turquoise bed that cradled so many other kitties through the years. And what phenomenally bad photos! Of all the litters to not have good photos, but three were adopted quickly enough I didn’t need them, and I did take plenty of photos of Lucy, thinking I’d find a home for her as well.

Sweet memories…I am not one to think things happen for a reason, but there had to be a reason absolutely no one was interested in adopting Lucy and she stayed with me. She would eventually develop FIP and I learned a sad but valuable lesson and could use all my veterinary and alternative resources to care for her, and she brought her mom to join us because otherwise I never would have asked that family for her mom, only the kittens.

But this was way before all that, and finding homes for three of four kittens in three days was pretty exciting.

Read other stories in my Rescue Stories series on The Creative Cat.

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Each month features one of my commissioned portraits of a feline or felines and their rescue story along with a kitty quote on the left page, and on the right page the month name with enough lines for all possible dates, with standard holidays and animal-themed observances and events. Great Rescues also includes a mini cat-care book illustrated with my drawings including information on finding strays or orphaned kittens, adopting for the first time or caring for a geriatric cat, a list of household toxins and toxic plants, or helping stray and feral cats and beginning with TNR.

Each book includes also 10 sheets of my “22 Cats” decorative notepaper with a collage of all the portraits in black and white so you can make your own notes or write special notes to friends.

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Weekly schedule of features:

Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life

Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters

Tuesday: Rescue Stories

Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork

Thursday: New Merchandise

Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy

Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats

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From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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